NEW DELHI: David Beckham has claimed a gold and bronze medal so far in Guwahati. No, we are not talking of the legendary English footballer. India also has its very own Beckham, who hails from Andaman and Nicobar Islands and is currently in Guwahati taking part in the cycling events of the Khelo India Youth Games.
So far, he has won a gold in team trial while settling for bronze in team sprint events. Named after the England star, the 16-year-old initially wanted to follow in his namesake’s footsteps. "My family were huge fans of David Beckham. I even played in the Subroto Cup football competition," he said. Which begs the question, why did he choose cycling? Hardships and misfortune played a big role.
"I was only one when my father was killed in the tsunami. My mother died of an infection in 2014, and things became tough. I had to stay with my maternal grandfather and do odd jobs. When Cycling Federation fo India came calling, my grandfather convinced me to attend trials."
Those odd jobs were washing utensils in small shops while also running errands for neighbours. These physical exertions actually paid off during the trials. It included sprints, chin-ups, long jump, and high jump.
CFI’s main objective while conducting such trials is to gauge the physical fitness level of aspiring kids, “I topped most of the tests. They invited me to head to Delhi, was dream come true.”
David has studied till Class IX and is yet to give his board examinations. For now, studies have taken a back seat as he looks to make a name for himself at the world stage. So far, he has a sub-junior silver medal in the 2018 Nationals. Training under RK Sharma, he looks to Deborah Herold for inspiration. “Both of us have similar stories, full of hardship. Her international performances over the years have really inspired me a lot. We have spoken a few times and she is really helpful. Hopefully, I can match her performances soon.”
The KIYG has suddenly catapulted him to fame. And in David’s own words, he was taken aback when the media started approaching him for interviews. “I was nervous, I kept fumbling, could not convey what I wanted to say.”
Currently, there seems to be no stopping India from pedaling their way towards glory. The men’s team secured No 1 ranking across all four sprint events, the girls also levelled up by securing the top spot in the junior individual Keirin and Junior team sprint events. The Indian team now boasts of a Ronaldo as well as a Beckham!
He is aware of the level of competition and is determined to succeed. Next up for David is the individual sprint event on Thursday. Having participated in only one international competition so far (Cottbuser Cup), he is looking forward to the Junior World Championships in Egypt in August.